Under Suspicion

Scripture: I Peter 2:11-17

11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners {1and pilgrims {2}, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 
12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. 
13 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, 
14 or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. 
15 For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men– 
16 as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. 
17 Honor all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. 
  1. Paroikos–a stranger, a foreigner, one who lives in a place without the right of citizenship; a none citizen. From another people.
  2. Parepidēmos–one who comes from a foreign country into a city or land to reside there by the side of the natives. A sojourner, stranger,  or foreigner. From another country.

INTRODUCTION

In this passage, Peter reminds his readers that they are STRANGERS and FORIEGNERS to the pagan who live around them. The two words Peter uses are very similiar: one means “not from our house or people” and the other means “not from our country.” The point is clear: As followers of Christ, we do not fit into the culture. We are different; our values are different. Our sights are set on heaven but the world doesn’t think beyond the present world system. 


This means, we live under constant scrutiny. We are under suspicion. The world thinks we are weird. It’s like the story Vance Havner use to tell…A man went in to see a phycharitrist, he had his head tilted back with a strip of bacon drapped across each ear and a poched egg on his face. He said to the shrink…”I came to see you about my wife.” He had a few problems himself. The world thinks we are weird, that we have problems; they don’t realize, they have a few problems themselves.

Living in a pagan environment is always toughIn light of this problem: Peter gives them some admonitions…

I. ABSTAIN FROM FLESHLY LUST

Neither ‘flesh’ or ‘lust’ have a good ring and when you put them together, they sound even worse. David Walls {Holman Commentary} believes that Peter is not speaking about sensual lust primarily but about selfishness in general. Since I am a man, I think sensual first but he has a point. Walls says, “Sinful desires {fleshly lust} is best understood as strong desires motivated by our selfishness.” We are talking about any desire that is contrary to the will of God.


There are two reasons for abstaining: First we must maintain our witness before unbelievers and second; we must Protect our souls. These fleshly lust or worldly desires are enemies to the soul and the reason Peter uses the word ‘war’ is that these desires are constantly attacking our minds. The Greek word that Peter uses in reference to this war is strateuō from which we get our word ‘strategy.” It is all apart of the devil strategy.


Paul speaks about this in Galatians 5:17… For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposiiton to one another, so that you may not do the things you please.

II. MAINTAIN HONORABLE CONDUCT

Peter knew that they would speak against the Christians and our best defense is an honorable life that Glorifies Christ.


 If you think being a Christian is hard these days, you should go back to the first century. Christianity was new and very misunderstood. It was not considered a religion, not a legitimate one anyway. It was considered a cult or a sect. For years it was treated as a “sect” of Judaism until folks figured out the truth. You know how it is when something new is birthed and people don’t understand it: they come up with all kinds of crazy accusations and this was the case for the believers in Northern Asia Minor. They were being accused of being:

  1. Canibals because of the LORD’s supper
  2. Ungodly because they had no idols
  3. Anarchist because they claimed that Jesus was LORD

The main criticism of the Christians was that they were anti-government. Since they gave alleigence to Jesus their KING {LORD}, they were accused of being trouble makers, anarchist and disrespectful to authority. Peter admonished them to submit to the civil authorities.


Actually the criticism was completely unfounded as the primary principle of the Christian faith is to submit to authority beginning with Christ. No one should be better at submitting to authority than Christians. Christianity is not a license to rebel or to do as we please. 


We are to submit to authority so long as we are not ordered to do something immoral or contrary to the law of God. God has established authority for the orderly function of human life. [Illustration: sports–without rules and the enforcement of rules, you do not have a game]

III. WE CANNOT USE OUR CHRISTIAN LIBERTY AS A CLOAK FOR VICE

As Christians, we are free, no one has more liberty than a follower of Christ:

  1. We have freedom from the domineering power of sin: we may sin, but we don’t have to, we have the freedom and the power to say no.
  2. We are free from the penalty of sin, free of guilt because we have been forgiven.
  3. We are free from the anxiety and frustration of trying to fulfill the laws demands.  Free from the lawO happy condition, Jesus has bled and there is remission, Cursed by the law and bruised by the fall, Christ {Grace} hath redeemed us once for all.

BUT we are not free to do as we please and then claim grace. Grace is not abstract. It is not something out there, grace is within us. If we have been born again, grace is at work in us, giving us the desire to please God. Grace is not a cloak that covers our rebellion; it is not a rabbits foot.

Peter says in 2:16…Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

No issue is more misunderstood today than slavery. No culture on the planet misunerstands it more than spoiled Americans. Do you know what it is like to starve, to be without shelter or clothing? No you don’t. In the Roman Empire, one third of the people were slaves and they were not black. Some were black but the majority were not. The Romans enslaved all whom they captured. Human trafficing was big business and Joseph is proof of the pudding. Daniel and Nehemiah were also slaves. The British enslaved the Scotts for hunderds of years. Slavey is not a black/white issue and those who think it is are ignorant of world history.

In the ancient world, desperate people often attacked themselves to wealthy people who could provide their common needs. Of course, no one in their right mind would choose a cruel man to be their master but it was common for people to voluntarily attack themselves to good masters. These people were known as bondslaves.

Paul considered himself a bondslave to Jesus Christ. Oswald Chambers in MY UTMOST FOR HIS HIGHEST said, “The passion of Christianity is that I deliberately sign my own rights away and become a bondslave of Jesus Christ.” When I speak of giving your life to Christ, I mean it literally.

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